So there I was walking through the airport looking impossibly glamorous. Okay I'll stop right there because no such thing happened. When I travel I try and look decent but the reality is far from this. On my last flight from Bali to Sydney I fell into a fast and deep sleep and it was only when the flight attendants did their final checks for touch down that I rose from my deep slumper. Startled I looked down.
I was still wearing my in flight pyjamas.
I could either wait for everyone to get off and then retrieve my heavy suitcase jammed in the overhead compartment or just get home to Mr NQN. Against all sartorial logic and advice, I chose the latter (and fashion bloggers are probably shaking their head in pity at me because I'm positive that they would have chosen the other option).
Grabbing my coat, I wrapped it around my pyjamas (admittedly they are black fleece pyjamas and mercifully don't have Elmo or Hello Kitty on them) and shuffled through the airport with the airplane socks tucked into my flats. Of course nobody cared at this hour as I made my unspectacular entrance back to Sydney.
Allow me to demonstrate how to make a proper spectacular entrance. Come into a room bearing an enormous bowl of these black mussels. The jet black mussel shells open up to reveal a surprise of either vivid orange or creamy white meat inside. They are flecked with green chives and red chilli and sit dunked in a bowl of saffron infused coconut cream. They're a perfect example of how you can have a swoon worthy meal that garners praise in about 15 minutes from start to finish.
I prefer black mussels to green lip mussels because they are more tender - it's true there is less flesh in these mussels than with the green but use whichever mussels you like. Don't be put off by the live black mussel thing. They're sold in sealed packets at the supermarket or by the kilo at the market and aren't treated any differently really.
The brilliant thing about mussels is that they tell you when they are cooked when they open up their shells and they cook remarkably quickly. The soup is a bonus and I serve these with one shell off for easier eating and eaters can scoop up the rich coconut chilli broth with the shell. Bread or chips are both entirely optional and entirely necessary.
So tell me Dear Reader, would you have gotten dressed properly or gone through in your pyjamas? And would you pair these with bread or fries?
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Mussels With Chilli & Coconut Cream
An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella
Feeds 4 people with bread or fries
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
- 1.5kgs/3 lbs. live black mussels
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken or fish stock
- Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 2 teaspoons palm sugar (regular sugar will also do)
- 1-2 red chillies, chopped
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Step 1 - Clean and debeard the mussels (i.e. pull out the hairy bits) if needed (I bought ones that were already debearded).
Step 2 - Place in a large pot with the white wine and bring to a boil and simmer stirring around once or twice to evenly distribute the mussels. Within 4-5 minutes they should open up. Remove mussels and place in a bowl. Add the saffron threads, stock and simmer for about 5 minutes to infuse. Add the coconut cream, sugar and chillies and mix to combine. Taste for seasoning and add salt if you need to.
Step 3 - Return the mussels back to the pot and toss around gently, coating the mussels with the sauce. Serve with chives scattered on top with fries or bread.